“I Always Play Better After a Few Beers”

The truth about “swing lube”

We’ve all been there. You’re a few holes into a middling round and the beverage cart rolls up near the green. After downing a cold one, you stripe your next drive, shoot a dart at the flag and sink a birdie putt. Next hole, same thing.

Gotta be the “swing lube,” right? 

Well, yeah, kinda, according to an informal study conducted with a dozen average golfers (ages 25-64, 0-25 handicaps) that appeared in New York’s Westchester Magazine.

“Accuracy actually improved a bit for the group after they’d had a few, at least as measured by how far the ball landed—two yards closer—from an imaginary target,” according to Titleist Performance Institute-certified chiropractor Phil Striano, who conducted the study at an indoor range with PGA Professional Keith Melnik.

Before you start packing the cooler, however, Striano cautions that when they combined distance and accuracy, average player performance went down by 4 percent when alcohol was involved. 

Striano and Melnik utilized a K-VEST, which plots the movement of the body during the golf swing, and the TrackMan radar system, which measures swing speed, shot distance, accuracy and other metrics. They discovered that drinking affected alignment, and, Striano says, “most of the guys got a lot looser, and there was more turn in their hips and shoulders.”

That’s good, right? Wrong. “That made their swings longer, which actually reduced how far they hit the ball,” Striano says. Using a 6-iron, the golfers averaged a loss of 8.2 yards in carry, although three of the 12 dropped more than 20 yards.

Writer Dave Donelson reports that the golfers in the study consumed “anywhere from three to eight beers and hit 229 balls. By the time they finished, five of them were over the DUI limit of 0.08 percent blood alcohol, and most of the rest were really, really close to it.”

Of course, if you’re like West Virginian Chuck Stump, you might want to know exactly where your “tipping point” is. After playing lights-out during an admittedly wet round, Stump and his golf buddy Brent Pauley came up with the Golfalyzer ($20; golfalyzer.us), a portable breathalyzer for “social athletes.” Stump, a 15 handicap, says he has discovered he seems to play his best when he’s blowing a .04, the number at which he knows he’s hit his limit—and over which a driver is considered legally impaired.

Colorado’s DWAI laws start at .05 percent. Given the presence of higher-ABV (Alcohol by Volume) craft beers on Colorado courses, the tipping (or tippling) point for the average golfer here might be two beers—at most—in a round. Factor in your 19th-hole intake and you might find the Golfalyzer even more valuable.


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Taska Campbell is a regular contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer.

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